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Wednesday Food: Seafood Gumbo Before the Deluge

Seafood GumboLast Thursday I ventured into Louisiana territory for the first time.  Though a great enthusiast of Cajun cooking, seafood in particular, I am not well versed in the secrets thereof.  Nonetheless, with a hankering for spicy shrimp and hearty leftovers I plunged into my first experiment with seafood gumbo.

The first disclosure I should make is that this recipe does not involve a traditional roux, and as my produce aisle was clean out of fresh okra I had to omit that as well.  With these modifications I can’t say that this is genuine gumbo, but it’s damn close and has a fraction of the fat that you would find in more authentic recipes.

In lieu of a traditional roux, which cooks flour in oil and is then used as a thickener, I toasted flour in the oven to produce a smoky flavor and added it to the vegetable base.  Whereas onion, celery and carrot is a classic start for most soups and stews, Cajun cooking alters this combination to produce a “holy trinity” of onion, celery and bell pepper– anyone who ever watched Emeril Lagasse probably knows this.  I had great success with this recipe which meant very little extra.

Little did I know that a violent storm blowing through the following evening would uproot a neighboring tree that would then kill the power, cause my sump pump to fail and then flood my just-unpacked basement bedroom with two inches of alley water.  In retrospect a spot of leftover gumbo would have consoled my frustration in the desperate days that followed.  Or at least I could have offered it to the generous friends who sheltered myself and my cats through the weekend.  Signing the lease to an apartment with a street address of 1313 may have been unwise.  Or, to borrow the insightful words of one Gob Bluth– I’ve made a huge mistake.

Low-fat Seafood Gumbo.  Roughly based on a recipe by– you guessed it– good ole’ Emeril.  The ingredient list is relatively long and on the pricier side but you can cut back on the big ticket seafood items as I’ve indicated.

Serves 4, or 2 ravenous people

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbs veg oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 small poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme (dried, if you don’t have fresh)
  • 3/4 lbs- 1 lbs uncooked shrimp (whatever you can afford), peeled, tailed, deveined
  • 1/2 lbs bay scallops or regular, halved
  • bunch of green onions chopped
  • 4-8 oz crab meat (claw is cheaper than lump, but avoid the canned stuff which just tastes like tuna)
  • chopped fresh parsley to garnish
  • cooked white rice to accompany

Oven at 400

Spread the flour out on a cookie sheet and toast it in the oven until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, sauté onion, pepper, celery and garlic with a pinch of salt in the oil/butter for about ten minutes.  Crush up the tomatoes in the can with your fingers and add to the pot.  Sift in the toasted flour, eliminating any lumps.   Add the stock and clam juice, cook about 5 more minutes, then add bay leaves, lemon, cayenne, thyme, and salt to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until slightly thickened.

Add shrimp, scallops and green onions, which take only a few minutes to cook.  Add crab meat, season to taste, and serve over rice with a bit of parsley on top.


June 25, 2009 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Maybe if you’d had a nice, strong “hurricane” to drink, the weather gods would have been confused, and stopped by for a bite of gumbo, instead of shitstorming your lovely new home….

    Comment by Vanessa | June 25, 2009

  2. Mmm…okra. I suggest a do-over minus the flooding and with the addition of delicious okra.

    Comment by Sarah | June 25, 2009

  3. Add some andouille, okra and some gumbo file and you would have a gumbo. What you’ve got is a seafood soup, maybe a cioppino? It looks good, but not very gumbo like.

    Comment by grackle | June 26, 2009

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